Implementation of a self-scheduling system: a solution to more than just schedules!

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To describe a model of self-scheduling and the systematic process involved in its implementation on a nursing unit in an American hospital.


A change in staff work schedules became necessary when staff dissatisfaction, absenteeism, vacancies and staffing costs increased. The approach used to tackle these issues resulted in other significant outcomes such as staff-initiated projects to improve care and more time for the manager to address other issues.


When staff managed the project, dissatisfaction, absenteeism and costs decreased. A modified version of the self-scheduling model was replicated for other units. The gap between management and staff narrowed and staff utilized the process as a continuing education project. Applications to work on the unit multiplied. However, complaints of peer pressure, favouritism and unavailability of staff on certain shifts also emerged.


Moving work environments to become more employee-friendly can facilitate transformation. Incentives to attract staff and respect for the needs of staff can translate to improved care for external customers. Recommendations are made concerning the need for nurse managers to be employee-sensitive in the interests of productivity, staff retention and progress.

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